HOW HE GOT HERE
The road to the roses can be a storied one and this guy is no exception. Not often do you see a runner in the Derby try to break his maiden twice on grass then switch over to the dirt, four races in he finally breaks his maiden out West at Del Mar, earning an 84 Beyer Speed Figure. Of those 4 maiden tries, he was 3-1 or less in each of those starts so the public was high on him all along.
With the maiden win out of the way, right into deep waters this horse goes in the Grade 3 Sham. Reincarnate broke with nice early gate speed to establish the lead and the rail. The field was compact the entire way around the track with 5 lengths separating the field. With the small field, the trips were mostly clean but the pace was brutal (22.1 to the first call). As they turn for home another horse looms up that was stalking 4 lengths off the lead. The story was all but written, the stalker was with the pace flow and the rival would pass with ease. But Reincarnate digs in and keeps finding to earn a massive victory at 16-1 and a huge Beyer boost up to 95.
Hopes are high with this runner as he ships to Oaklawn to square off in the Rebel stakes. The track was sloppy, the weather gloomy, and a sign of things to come. Our runner was 9/2 in a big 11 horse field. In the post parade, the horse looked bear-like: strong and imposing but without urgency. Out of the gate the horse broke inward, was asked for speed, but got a subtle check that puts this one 3 lengths off the lead and out of position with that early momentum lost. Around the far turn with half a dozen lengths to make up was faced with a wall of horses to weave through. As the stretch drive unfolds and this horse gets going, he’s bumped several times and loses all momentum. When finds the clear, he closes well and gets up for 3rd. An impossible trip with a great result.
Now comes the most recent race, the Arkansas Derby. A much better break this day going off at 3-1. Shows speed but gets stuck 3-4w into the first turn. In the backstretch makes a subtle move to pull into contention for the lead 2w. Middle way around the far turn the jockey is scrubbing hard as Angle of Empire blows by coming off the pace. As they crossed the wire, he was third with a blanket finish for the minors involving 5 other horses. Overall, the performance was dull and the horse didn’t have any real excuses. The figure comes back an 86 and the connections had to be devastated for a repeat meh effort.
Did he need to win the Arkansas race, no. He needed to hit the board in his last start to secure a spot in the Derby. So there’s a bit of a question mark if this horse was cranked up. I have to side with “yes” because there was too much at stake to try and just hit the board, considering he only is in the derby by a half length at most. If he finishes off the board, he’s out.
HOW HE FITS HERE
This horse is polarizing. On one hand you have a horse that can dig in and give you speed, stamina and earn a 95 Beyer. But that’s only been seen out West. On the other hand, the two Oaklawn performances under the trainer switch of Tim Yakteen, the two most recent starts, were so-so with an excuse in one. He’s faced pace pressure and risen to the occasion once and is a horse who knows how to dig deep.
In the Kentucky Derby, I would expect a pressing style of trip. Whether he sees out the distance and can fend off the closers is a whole different question. Will we get the Sham performance that showed grit or will we see the dull performance we saw last out. He’ll be a massive price on the day.
CONNECTIONS AND PEDIGREE
Purchased by Lanni Donato for Starlight/Madaket/SF Racing at the Spring Keeneland sale for a massive $775k. He started his career out West under the hands of Baffert up until the Sham, where this one shipped out East and fell to Tim Yakteen. Maybe this runner lost a step moving away from the magic of Baffert?
A son of Good Magic, the runner up in the Derby in 2018, looks to be the right type of pedigree to see the distance. Disclaimer here for all the pedigree nuts, this isn’t a strength of mine.
I find this runner very interesting. Yakteen got this horse in February and maybe still working things out. There’s talent there, but the question remains will this runner see out the full 10 furlongs. I would use him as a deep backup in hopes there’s a return to form of the Sham. With such a large investment by this group, I have confidence they know what they’re doing and can get this horse to peak at the perfect time.